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Repitition ad nauseum

Chabert writes

This “argument” of the fictional conservative is left standing, not to be contested but for its underlying assumptions, its premises to sink in. As always in Zizek, when he ventriloquises like this, the statements of fact (and the unstated but clearly conveyed and indispensible assumptions, which the reader is required to produce in their own minds to make the remarks even intelligible) which he himself presents through the marionette are treated thereafter in the text as firmly established. The sock puppet’s lines always have two parts - statements of ( always false) facts (which are encrusted with always false, always right wing, always ideological, and almost always racist assumptions) and usually foolish opinions or attitudes about them. The statements of fact are never subjected to questioning or interrogation; Zizek’s textual sock puppets appear simply like pundit experts on MSNBC: the cardboard “conservative” is only very briefly made to appear in order for Zizek to avoid making stark, quotable mendacious statements “in his own voice” on which he might be challenged, and to seduce his reader into the acceptance of these “facts” as unavoidable conditions: such as that “the Muslims” and “Europe” are mutually exclusive terms, and “Europe” is synonymous with “we Christians”, and “the Muslisms” are killing and burning, while “we Christians” neither kill nor burn but merely speak (exercising our special gift) without pausing to question their veracity or sense.

This is not only in Zizek. It happens throughout the media, throughout the presentation of argument to mass audiences. But it doesn’t take more than a child to question whether the straw-men are valid presentations of another point of view, so the response of children to statements of fact are carefully molded from a very early age by education and social practice. It begins with a domination of the subject’s sense of self and world: from the earliest age there are reified measures handed to children which are they are expected to use unquestioningly, mechanically. These measures are not explained as the result of a collective investigation into our sense of things, as an accretion of subjective acts, they are simply given; an internalized sense of passivity comes to dominate our engagement with objects, they take on their determinations in virtue not of our acts but due to their relation to given measures.

This passivity prepares us to accept all manner of given statements, to internalize them and then interact with the world as appendages of the social formations that give birth to them. Frightening. Brilliant.

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2 Responses

  1. Yes to all that. But you know, children are still quite unruly and indiscreet, they tend to run their mouths and repeat things they heard their parents say at home, much to the embarrassment of mom and dad. They can be awkward customers. Not at all like the people Chabert is talking about.

  2. Yea, it takes years to bring them within a fully acculturated and acceptable pattern of behavior. But education lasts long enough to cow most of the recalcitrant. Those it doesn’t are crushed in due order.

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